Stalled 40-mile-long Russian convoy near Kyiv now largely dispersed, satellite images show
From CNN's Paul P. Murphy
With the clouds temporarily clearing around the Ukrainian capital, new satellite images taken earlier on Thursday show that the Russian military convoy northwest of Kyiv that stretched more than 40 miles (more than 64 kilometers) has "largely dispersed and redeployed," Maxar Technologies says.
The satellite images show that some elements of the convoy have "repositioned" into forests and treelined areas near Lubyanka, Ukraine, according to Maxar. The satellite images were taken at 11:37 a.m. Kyiv time (4.37 a.m. ET) on Thursday.
Just north of the Antonov Airbase in Hostomel, Ukraine, Russian military vehicles are seen sitting on roadways in residential areas in the town of Ozera — 17 miles northwest of Kyiv.
Towed artillery and other vehicles are seen taking cover in a sparse patches of trees near Lubyanka — about three miles northwest of the Antonov Airbase.
In Berestyanka — 10 miles west of the airbase — a number of fuel trucks and, what Maxar says, appears to be multiple rocket launchers are seen positioned in a field near trees.
Southeast of Ivankiv — the end of what was the 40+ mile convoy — a number of trucks and equipment are still seen on the roadway.
See more of the images below:
8:08 p.m. ET, March 10, 2022
On the ground: CNN's Clarissa Ward reports on how heavy fighting unfolded east of Kyiv Thursday
There has been "an alarming development today, which is a real uptick in Russian activity to the east of the city, beyond a suburb called Brovary. We saw some very heavy fighting there," said CNN's Clarissa Ward, in a live report from Kyiv.
We "also saw a large column of Russian tanks come under fire in this extraordinary drone video, which appears to show Ukrainian forces firing anti-tank missiles, like those javelins that the US military has supplied them with, and basically picking off tanks in that Russian convoy," Ward told CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
In addition to video of the battle, Ward noted that there is also relevant audio.
"There is a voice heard over this video. Apparently, the voice of a Russian soldier in that tank unit saying that his commander has been killed," she said.
But as the Ukrainians fight to defend their position, it's worrisome for citizens of Kyiv, Ward noted, that Russian forces are expanding their offensive.
"It is certainly of grave concern to everybody here in this city that the Russians appear to be making a real play, pushing east and then potentially, of course, pushing downwards, presumably, the goal would be to totally encircle the city [of Kyiv]. And meanwhile, so many civilians, Wolf, are still pinned down and trapped under heavy fighting," she added.
Ward noted that Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs — Dmytro Kuleba — shared social media video showing the war's impacts, especially on children.
"We saw a tweet today from the Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kuleba, where he ... shows the true cost of this, which are the children who are so often the victims in this war. And [Kuleba] posted some dramatic video that was shot during an evacuation in a town called Vorzel, again to the northwest, of an orphanage. A young child, a toddler, Wolf, one of two very sick children being ferried out of that orphanage looking frankly, completely unconscious," reported Ward.
As the fighting continues, so too does the civilian suffering in the suburb, Ward said.
"The people in this suburb have had no access to water, to medicine, to food, to gas, to heat, to electricity. It has been a completely traumatic experience and rescue workers still struggling to get into these hardest-hit areas and get Ukraine's most vulnerable citizens out," said Ward.
7:14 p.m. ET, March 10, 2022
CNN boarded a NATO surveillance plane above the Polish-Ukrainian border. Here's what we saw.
CNN accompanied NATO's Flying Squadron 2 on one such surveillance mission on Thursday. Within two hours of taking off at 8 a.m. CET, the radar on board the NATO AWACS plane — short for Airborne Warning and Control System — picked up about a dozen Russian-made planes idling in Belarus just north of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, NATO tactical director Denis Guillaume told CNN.
The "vast majority" of the Russian-made fighter jets that NATO forces have seen entering Ukrainian airspace since Russia's invasion began have originated in Belarus, the NATO mission's technical director told CNN on board Thursday's flight.
On one particularly "active" day last week, NATO forces saw about 20 Russian jets heading to Kyiv from Belarus, he said. The military aircraft taking off from Belarus and entering Ukrainian airspace have been in support of Russian military operations in Ukraine, the NATO airmen told CNN.
Among the major questions looming over the war has been whether Belarusian forces have directly entered the conflict to support Russia. But the NATO troops said they could not answer that — Belarus and Russia use the same Soviet-era MiG-29s, they said, so it is difficult to say in real time who is actually operating them. Ukrainian pilots also use the MiG-29s, they noted, so it is similarly unclear how contested Ukraine's airspace has become.
Still, some signs are obvious, they say. For example, the jets flying into Ukraine from Russian-allied Belarus are clearly not Ukrainian.
The AWACS plane on which CNN flew Thursday is one of the few military assets owned by NATO itself, rather than donated by a member country, and the fleet of 14 AWACS planes together conduct nearly two dozen missions per week, spying more than 400 kilometers east to ensure that no unfriendly aircraft are headed toward NATO's airspace.
The missions are routine but have become particularly "intense" since Russia invaded Ukraine, one of the co-pilots told CNN. NATO has stepped up its defense of the eastern flank members over the last several weeks, and Thursday's surveillance flight was particularly long, requiring a midair refueling.
About 100,000 people have evacuated Ukraine through evacuation corridors in the past 2 days, Zelensky says
From CNN's Hira Humayun
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said about 100,000 people have been evacuated via evacuation corridors over the past two days.
“One of the main tasks for us today was the organization of humanitarian corridors," Zelensky said in a video address posted to Facebook late Thursday night. "Sumy, Trostyanets, Krasnopillya, Irpin, Bucha, Hostomel, Izium. Almost 40,000 people have already been evacuated this day. They were given safety at last. In Poltava, Kyiv, Cherkasy, Zaporizhzhia, Dnipro, Lviv."
He said humanitarian aid, food and medicine was delivered.
“We are doing everything to save our people in the cities that the enemy just wants to destroy,” Zelensky said.
Mariupol and Volnovakha, however, remain completely blocked, he said, adding that despite Ukrainian officials’ best efforts to make the corridor work, “Russian troops did not cease fire.” Regardless of this, Zelensky said he still decided to send a convoy of trucks carrying food, water and medicine.
“But the invaders started a tank attack exactly in the area where this corridor was supposed to be. Corridor of life. For the people of Mariupol," the president said.
Earlier on Thursday: Local authorities in the besieged Ukrainian city of Mariupol said Russian forces have begun dropping bombs on the "green corridor" designated to evacuate Mariupol residents.
"Right now, the air bombardment of Mariupol is underway," said Petro Andryushchenko, the adviser to the mayor of Mariupol.
“They did it consciously. They knew what they were disrupting. They have a clear order to hold Mariupol hostage, to torture it, to carry out constant bombardment,” Zelensky said.
He added: “Today they destroyed the building of the main department of the State Emergency Service in the Donetsk region. Right next to this building was the place where Mariupol residents were to gather for evacuation”
Earlier in the day, the mayor of Mariupol, Vadym Boychenko, also issued a furious video message condemning what he calls Russia's "cynical and destructive war against humanity" and said every 30 minutes the city was invaded by Russian forces. The mayor said humanitarian aid cannot get through to Mariupol for the sixth day in a row.
Zelensky noted that the state would continue trying to bring Mariupol the aid its people “so desperately need.”
7:01 p.m. ET, March 10, 2022
Ukrainian authorities say 20,000 evacuated from Sumy region Thursday
From CNN's Tim Lister in Kyiv
Regional authorities in eastern Ukraine say 20,000 people were evacuated from the Sumy region in northeastern Ukraine Thursday.
Dmytro Lunin, head of the Poltava region administration, said that “20,000 people left the Sumy region through a green corridor. Buses from Sumy and Trostianets are already arriving in Lubny, from where the evacuees will travel by train to the west of the country.”
CNN cannot independently verify the number of evacuees, but in recent days the Ukrainian authorities have said that tens of thousands of civilians have been evacuated through evacuation corridors from Sumy, including hundreds of foreign students.
7:15 p.m. ET, March 10, 2022
US senators in talks about taking aim at Russia's trade status and changing House bill
Initially, there had been a bipartisan and bicameral agreement to revoke the "permanent normal trade relations" (PNTR)that Russia and Belarus enjoy with the United States. But the White House objected to that language, so the bill that passed in the House — which would ban Russian energy imports — instead simply called for a review of Russia's status in the World Trade Organization.
Now, Senate Finance Chairman Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon, told CNN that he is engaging in talks with the top tax writers in Congress and the Biden administration about the matter, as pressure grows to include tougher language in the House bill when the Senate takes it up — as soon as next week.
"I believe the Russians — the inhumane behavior of Russia does not justify it get the fruits of the international community," Wyden told CNN.
GOP Sen. Mike Crapo from Idaho, the ranking Republican on the Finance Committee, said he probably wouldn't support the House bill without stronger language on its trade status — and made clear there would be an effort to amend it.
"The question is PNTR, which is absent. And then they had some other stuff on the WTO in there, which is kind of hollow if we don’t do PNTR," Crapo said. "So, I probably would not support it because it doesn't have the key things that you need for a proper trade response."
5:44 p.m. ET, March 10, 2022
US lawmakers expect to pass a $13.6 billion Ukraine aid package this week. Here's what is in it.
From CNN's Katie Lobosco
US lawmakers are expected to pass a massive spending bill this week that would provide for a one-time $13.6 billion infusion of military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine as it fights back against Russia's invasion.
The amount of money the bill includes for Ukraine increased as lawmakers negotiatedover the past several days, growing from the $10 billion the White House had asked for last week.
Here's a look at what is in the bill and how the Ukraine aid is expected to be spent:
About $6.5 billion in military aid so the US Department of Defense can deploy troops to the region and send defense equipment to Ukraine.
More than $4 billion in humanitarian aid to provide support for refugees fleeing Ukraine and people displaced within the country as well as provide emergency food assistance, health care and urgent support for vulnerable communities inside the region
Nearly $1.8 billion in economic aid to help respond to the financial needs in Ukraine and neighboring countries, like cybersecurity and energy issues.
The bill also calls for $25 million for the US Agency for Global Media, an independent federal agency, to combat disinformation in news broadcasts abroad.
Another $120 million would help support local Ukraine activists and journalists and promote accountability for Russian human rights violations.
"Today, they cynically shelled the State Service of Mariupol for Emergencies," he said in the video that showed the extensive damage to the building. "Every 30 minutes, Mariupol was invaded by Russian aviation that was shooting at civilian buildings killing civilians — elderly, women and children."
"It's genocide that was created by the Russian army with Putin," Boychenko said.
The mayor also said there is the "highest level of cynicism" around the evacuation corridors for civilians and humanitarian aid to pass.
"They cynically keep hostage of 400,000 Mariupol citizens that are waiting and hoping for a humanitarian corridor to open up," he said in the video. "Humanitarian aid can't get through to Mariupol for the sixth day now, although Russians claim it was peaceful and quiet in the occupied Mariupol. It's the highest level of cynicism."
4:57 p.m. ET, March 10, 2022
The US has seen Russia increasingly firing weapons from a distance, senior US defense official says
From CNN's Ellie Kaufman
The US has seen an “increase” in the use of “long-range fires, bombardment, missile launches, both from aircraft” and “mobile” missile launchers by Russian forces in Ukraine over the last few days, a senior US defense official told reporters on Thursday.
“I mean, just looking at the imagery they are clearly hitting populated areas and causing a lot of damage, so we definitely have seen and independently can verify an uptick in the increase of long-range fires as they have struggled to overcome the challenges in momentum that they have suffered in the first couple of weeks,” the official said.
The official said the US expected Russian forces to “adapt” and “overcome” the initial logistical challenges they were facing, and that’s what the world is seeing in the increased use of long-range fires on major population centers in Ukraine.